PTFE, popularly known as Teflon and one of the most commonly used
polymers in recent decades, was discovered by accident in a DuPont laboratory
Working in the New Jersey laboratories of DuPont, Roy Plunkett was
attempting to make a new chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant. During this process
the tetrafluoroethylene gas in its pressure bottle stopped flowing before the
bottle’s weight had dropped to the point of signalling ’empty’. Weighing the
bottle to measure the amount of gas, Plunkett became curious about the source
of the weight.
When he sawed the bottle apart, he noticed the inside coated with a waxy
white slippery material, which on analysis turned out to be perfluoroethylene. Kinetic
Chemicals, formed by DuPont in partnership with General Motors, patented the
new fluorinated plastic in 1941, and registered the Teflon trademark in 1945.
By 1948, DuPont was producing over 900 tons of Teflon brand PTFE per
year. The material became popular over the next decade in the home segment as
coating for non-stick cookware with patented brands such as Tefal and Happy
Teflon’s excellent dielectric properties, especially at high radio
frequencies expanded the application potential with the material being used as
an insulator in connector assemblies and cables, as well as in printed circuit
boards used at microwave frequencies.
PTFE has a broad industrial application too thanks to its low friction
and high chemical resistance; it is used for bushes, washers, gaskets, seals,
slide plates, valve seats and tooling pins among many more.
Allplastics Engineering has been machining PTFE components over the last
44 years for a diverse range of industries including food, packaging,
pharmaceutical, chemical, materials handling and transport.
For special applications where virgin PTFE is not suitable, Allplastics
can provide glass filled, carbon filled and bronze filled PTFE. For
applications where PTFE is required to be bonded to steel, Allplastics can
provide a chemically etched surface on one side of the sheet.
Key features of PTFE include superior chemical resistance; high
temperature use up to 260¡C; lowest co-efficient of friction; physiologically
inert material; and excellent electrical properties.